Tozun Bahcheli, Barry Bartmann and Henry Srebrnik
The persistence of ethnic separatism in the modern world has long confounded social scientists. A succession of analysts, Karl Marx and Max Weber among them, postulated that ethnicity would dissipate, and ethnic and nationalist conflicts diminish, through the process of modernization. But contrary to their predictions, the integration of ethnic populations into larger state structures and economic systems did not, in most instances, result in a decline in ethnic allegiance; there seems to be little correspondence between modernization and levels of ethnic group cohesion. Instead, the role of ethnicity as a mobilizing force appears to be escalating, and the worldwide development of a sense of ethnic and national consciousness constituted one of the major political and social trends of the twentieth century.
There are as many as 3,500 groups of people around the world who describe themselves in ethnic or national terms, so most of the world's sovereign states are multinational patchwork units of different - often hostile - ethnic communities. On the other hand, there are some 80 multistate national groups - ethnic peoples who live in more than one state. Given this situation, the principle of national self-determination has come into conflict with the doctrine of state sovereignty and the inviolability of borders. Since World War Two, more people have been killed in ethnic conflicts within states than have been killed in wars between states. Today, with ideologically-based superpower rivalry a thing of the past, nationalist doctrines are in the ascendancy, often bringing in their wake intolerance of minorities, hatred of neighbours, and impatience with established frontiers. The past two decades (1980s and 1990s), especially, have seen the intensification of ethnic conflicts, especially in multinational states prone to such antagonisms. Indeed, conflicts between rival nationalities are the basis of most of today's violence and have contributed significantly to global instability. When such hostilities involve national groups in command of sovereign states, they may take the form of territorial invasions and wars. When they affect ethnicities within the same political unit, they can result in communal animosity, separatist agitation and sometimes civil war. The latter has been the case in states such as Russia, Serbia, Georgia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Papua New Guinea, which contain peoples and regions wishing to secede and form their own independent states. 'Ethnic and separatist conflicts are among the most implacable and intense of disputes...and least amenable to a peaceful settlement', notes Alexis Heraclides. He calculates